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The Programme 2019 - Additional Call

The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for project topics and then for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. The areas of interest are set out below.

Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council) for up to 7 PhD scholarships. Two of these may be awarded to “overseas” Scholars. Home and overseas Scholars are defined according to a Scholar’s status for University admissions. The funding available will be in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Currently these are:

  • National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2018/19 is £14,777
  • Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2018/19 is £4,260
  • Overseas Indicative Fee Level is £21,000

Supervisors will be allocated £2,500 per annum for Travel and Subsistence and all fees and stipend will be covered. Exceptional costs, for example, additional research costs, travel costs and placement costs during the scholarship will be negotiated with the HNSEG.

Scholars will be funded for 4 years. The scholarship may involve periods of research at a water related institution, such as Scottish Water, the Scottish Government, SEPA, or industry. The HNSEG will liaise between the applicant and the water organisation to develop this link, following appointment of the Scholar. Please do not contact a placement partner before application.

The Process

Call for project Proposals

  • The call for project proposals, based on advertised topics is made in July/August of the current year
  • There is a strict limit of one application per academic as a primary supervisor and one as a second supervisor
  • Projects proposals must be submitted to the HNSP Secretariat Laura Logie (  on the project proposal form link below.
  • Prospective PhD Scholars are encouraged to submit project proposals (Scholar-led proposals), which will be reviewed alongside academic-led proposals
  • The proposal must show that the project is rational, feasible, innovative and relevant to the Hydro Nation strategy
  • Project proposals will be reviewed and selected by a panel chaired by the HNSEG and includes policy stakeholders from Scottish Water, SEPA, WICS and SNH.  Proposers will be notified of the outcome October 2018
  • Due to the lack of projects recieved for two of our "Topics of Interest" on the first call, we have decided to give a second oppurtunity to academics who are interested in the topics below to apply. The deadline for  the submission of project proposals for the second 2019 call is the 14th November 2018

Topics of interest for 2019 are:

Innovative Monitoring and Financial Approaches for the Improved Maintenance of Water Infrastructure Assets:
Problem: Capital maintenance is the investment required to maintain existing levels of service, through replacing assets at the end of their useful life and intervening to prevent asset deterioration. The very nature of water and wastewater assets make the regulation of capital maintenance challenging. Long life-cycles and the sometimes-inaccessible nature of water industry assets (particularly underground assets) has complicated our ability to understand the likely timing of deteriorations or of critical asset failures.  Given the challenges to develop robust information on asset condition and asset lives, it is difficult to determine the required level of allowed capital maintenance spend consistent with managing water and wastewater assets effectively at lowest whole life cost.  The current focus on short term is likely to have implications for intergenerational equity, maintaining stable charges and the long-term sustainability of the industry. 

Ask: Proposals are sought to explore how regulated companies’ information on asset condition and asset lives can be improved and monitored. Recommendations on lessons learned from asset intensive industries in other jurisdictions would be welcome.  Proposals are invited to explore how capital maintenance could be funded over the long-term and what financial mechanisms could be adopted within the regulatory framework to ensure sustainability and intergenerational equity whilst ensuring companies are investing money efficiently and are operating under a hard budget constraint.

Water Management in the Food and Drink Industry:
Problem: Food and Drink is a hugely important sector to the Scottish economy and a significant user of water resources with single sites often using water from a variety of sources against which issues of access and security of supply in volumetric and water-quality terms often has to be balanced against the interests of other users. 
The need to minimise production costs while observing responsible resource management is adding to increased competitive pressures to which the industry needs to respond creatively. In addition, the impacts of climate change on water resources for the sector need to be to be taken into account.
Ask: Proposals are sought that explore opportunities to assist this key industry respond to the kinds of challenges outlined above and maximise the value from the water resources it uses, whether through improved water efficiency, value and resource recovery or the creative use of water resources in relation to production.



The Project Proposal Application form can be downloaded here.
Please return this form to Laura Logie ( in electronic (Word) format by:  14th November 2018